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Caffeine and Blood Pressure: How Does It Affect Your Heart Health?

Written by Jim Duncan, MSW | Last updated:

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Caffeine can have positive effects on your health, if you know how to consume it. But what are the effects it has on blood pressure? Below you’ll find out about the connection between caffeine and blood pressure, and how genetics can play a role.

An Introduction to Caffeine and Blood Pressure

Most of the time, we offer up suggestions for things to do or take that improve upon your ability to either deal with or avoid certain health conditions.

This is not one of those times. We are not suggesting here that you consume caffeine to reduce your risks of high blood pressure (hypertension). I suspect a lot of people would be happy if we did.

We are, in fact, suggesting that you cut your caffeine intake to lower your risk. Now, before you threaten the apocalypse for subverting your morning coffee run, we will say, like always, that it all depends on a number of things, including your genetics.

High Blood Pressure Is A Real Problem

High blood pressure is one of the most common health ailments we face. Nine out of ten individuals in the U.S. will face it at some point in their lives [1].

There are two main forms of it, primary and secondary. Primary tends to develop over time with no specific known cause. Secondary is the result of another condition, such as sleep apnea, drug abuse, or kidney disease [2].

Either one can be seriously problematic if left alone and untreated. They can raise your risk for heart disease or stroke, among other things.

The secondary variety is more straightforward to deal with. You treat the cause and it should get better. When the cause is unknown however, you have to start studying the problem for risk factors.

What Are The Risk Factors For High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension can creep up on you. Most people don’t realize they have it until they are in a situation where their blood pressure is checked or something bad happens like a heart attack.

This is one of the main reasons for being preventative with your health! It’s not like you have nerve fibers in your blood vessels to tell you when the pressure is getting too high, so getting ahead of the problem can be a huge advantage.

Some of the things that can factor into high blood pressure include [2]:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Weight
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Genetics
  • Inactivity
  • Diet
  • Stress

Notice what’s not on that list? Yep! You don’t see caffeine there, but we’ll get there in a minute.

Does Caffeine Raise Blood Pressure?

To be clear, caffeine does actually affect blood pressure. When you consume caffeine, whether it be from coffee, an energy drink, or supplement, one of its effects is to spike your blood pressure.

Caffeine raises blood pressure by blocking adenosine, a compound that helps blood vessels stay relaxed and open. Without the adenosine, blood vessels constrict, the heart must work harder to move blood through your system, and so the pressure rises.

This rise kicks off within 15 minutes of consumption and can last 4-6 hours. If you don’t consume more, things should return to normal.

Many of us are in this position. We like our coffee or energy drink or soda or tea, and we pay no thought to the consequences of that little burst of blood pressure. Why? Because we never notice.

Hypertension, as stated above, has many risk factors, so you might get it irrespective of your caffeine consumption. If you get hypertension though, that spike in blood pressure can be serious, and caffeine will be one of the first things off the list if you get diagnosed with it.

For a small subset of us, our genetics make this all better or worse, depending on one little gene variant.

How Do My Genetics Affect Caffeine and Blood Pressure?

Genetics may account for up to 50% of differences in blood pressure [3, 4]. There is one gene specifically responsible for metabolizing caffeine called CYP1A2. Depending on your version of it, you are either good to go or you’d better be careful.

The CYP1A2 rs762551 “C” variant is what is called the “slow-metabolizing” variant. If you are stuck with this, your body metabolizes caffeine slower than normal. Your risk of hypertension is higher if you consume caffeine [5].

If, on the other hand, you have one of the “A” variants, or what is known as the “fast-metabolizing” version, your risk of hypertension may actually be lower [6]. Good news! Caffeine may actually protect you from hypertension!

Now, we won’t say this justifies hitting up the coffee shop every morning in the name of good health, but at least you can strike that worry off the list.

A Gene-Based Approach To Blood Pressure

Instead of waiting until your blood pressure sneaks up on you, why not take a preventive approach to your health and see what your genes have to say?

There are many factors that play a role in your blood pressure. We’ve discussed how the CYP1A2 gene can affect caffeine and blood pressure, but there are other genes that can influence your heart health.

For example, if you have a variant of the ADRB2 gene, switching to the DASH diet may be more effective at managing your blood pressure [7].

If you want to optimize your health, you can take a trial and error approach to see what works for you, but why would you? A DNA test from SelfDecode can help you focus on what your body truly needs.

The SelfDecode Blood Pressure Report analyzes over 1 million genetic variants that can influence your blood pressure. Unlike other DNA companies that only look at a few variants, SelfDecode uses AI and machine learning to give you the most accurate results.

Caffeine and Blood Pressure DNA Wellness report

You’ll receive a prioritized list of what you should and should not do to optimize your blood pressure. Not only that, you can build your own health regimen from your recommendations based on what works for you.

Conclusion

High blood pressure is a silent ailment that can sneak up on you, and it can bring along many other issues. By being proactive and understanding your genes, it can help you prevent your heart health from deteriorating in the first place so you can maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

If you want to get ahead of your health problems with a gene-based approach, you should check out SelfDecode.

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About the Author

Jim Duncan

MSW
Jim completed his M.S.W. in Social Work Administration at Portland State University. He has always been interested in analyzing social issues, and he helped fund and start a program against domestic violence. He has also conducted many public speaking sessions about violence against women, and published 3 fiction novels. Inspired by SelfDecode’s mission to make precision health a reality, he decided to use his natural writing ability to help teach the world about the power and promise of genomics. His areas of interest include science-based writing,  astronomy, and genomics.

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